Sunday, July 7, 2013

VeggieTales Review: The Penniless Princess

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great moral and story for young girls
Cons: Not much to appeal to adults or boys
The Bottom Line
Great new VeggieTale
For the target audience
Mostly for the girls

Loving Others Because He Loved Us

The last several VeggieTales releases have definitely been aimed at girls.  There's nothing wrong with that (in fact, you could say they really needed to add a few to their roster), but they don't appeal to me as much as some of their other releases.  So when I saw that this month they were releasing The Penniless Princess, I wasn't jumping for joy.  Still, I had to watch it, and I found myself enjoying it.

This episode is based on the classic novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a book I must confess I've never read.  But based on a plot synopsis, it sounds like they do a decent job of telling the main story in 50 minutes.  Sara Crewe is left with Miss Minchin's school while her father fights inIndia.  But when he dies, Sara is reduced to living at the school as a servant.  Fortunately, she has befriended many of the students.  Will that help her deal with her new circumstances?  Is God still watching her?

Yes, I can already tell a few changes that were made to the book, and I'm sure those who love the story will see others.  What interests me is the moral we're supposed to take from watching the story.  The outside of the DVD says this is a lesson in True Worth.  And there is talk about God's love for us.  They even wrap up the video with the verse from Romans about nothing separating us from God's love.  That's certainly true in the story as we see God bringing about a happy ending for Sara.

However, I think there's more to the lesson than that.  Sara makes it clear multiple times in the course of the story that her love for those around her is because of how God loves her.  Even when she is a student, she treats all the students, Miss Minchin, and even the servant Becky as equals and friends.  Not everyone accepts her behavior to them, but it is a great reminder of how we should be treating others.  Then again, I guess you could say that seeing other's True Worth because of how God sees us is really what this is all about.

Now, I know I've talked a lot about the moral here, but that's in contrast to the video.  Unlike the last couple, I didn't think this one preached or beat us over the head with it.  Yes, it is obvious what we are supposed to be learning, and the characters talk about it some, but it feels like it grows from the story instead of being forced in there.

Unlike some videos, this one has just the one story.  There are several catchy new songs about God's love and loving others that are fun.  And there's a new silly song - "Best Friends Forever" that is a texting acronym song.  It's mostly amusing with the best laughs coming at the end.

Very few of the classic VeggieTales characters are in this video, instead focusing on Sara, a vegetable I couldn't even quite recognize.  Several of the supporting players have bigger roles this time around, like Madame Blueberry and Laura Carrot.  Either way, the voice work from the various voice actors is great as always, especially from those who voice multiple characters.

The one thing missing from VeggieTales recently is the humor from the old classics.  I'd say that is missing here as well.  There are some chuckles in the wrap around as Larry tries to class things up since we are looking at a classic story here.  But the best laugh comes early on as how realistic musicals are or aren't is discussed.  It's a throw away bit, but I loved it.

While this won't appeal to adults as much, little girls will love The Penniless Princess and learn about loving others from it.  For them, this is a great release.

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